Woodbridge VA, May 16th, 2021 - For more than 7 years, Robyn, who asked us to not use her last name, has been taking the powerful opioid Oxycontin every day to relieve her chronic back pain. While her concern grew over the years about her risk of addiction (she saw several relatives become dependent on their painkilers), her worry turned to panic when she learned last month that her son had become a heroin addict.
"I don't want to take pain medication if I can become addicted to it. I'd rather endur the pain, than risk getting hooked on my meds" said Robyn. Robyn shared her concerns with Woodbridge VA pain physician Dr. Ashish Shanbhag, worried that her Oxyconton prescription might lead her down the same path as her drug-dependent or addicted relatives. How did Dr. Shanbhag respond? He gave Robyn peace of mind by giving her a genetic test for opioid addiction risk from Proove Biosciences.
Fortunately, the test confirmed Robin has the genetic profile of someone who is highly-resistant to the narcotic effects of opioids and is therefore not likely to become an addict. "Tailored therapeutics and genetic testing is the future of patient care," said Dr. Shanbhag. "We want to relieve our patient's pain, of course, but we also have to protect them from their inner demons, their genetically-determined risk of become addicted to opioids."
Robyn and Dr. Shanbhag recently shared their stories with television news reporter Dina Gusovsky, who featured the doctor and his patient in her series "The Business of Pain", which aired during CNBC's Nightly Business Report (NBR). The series examined the nation's opioid crisis and explored cutting-edge tools, including genetic screening, that pain physicians have added to their practice to protect patients from the scourge of addiction. The series comes on the heels of two national addiction summits, the RX Addiction summit in Atlanta and the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM) in Baltimore. Both conferences were attended by thousands of doctors and addiction experts who now use or endorse genetic testing as a powerful weapon in the war on opiod addiction (click here to view another TV news story which aired during the RX Addiction Summit in Atlanta).
Developed by a team of geneticists at Proove Biosciences in Irvine, CA, the test is the only one of its kind on the market. If it determines that a patient's DNA makes them highly susceptible to become addicted to Vicodin, oxycodone, or another opioid, doctors can then prescribe a non-opioid drug to address the patient's pain or prescribe a smaller dosage of an opioid that's just below a patient's genetically-determined threshold of addiction.
Along with other preventive measures used by a growing number of ethical pain physicians, doctors use genetic screening to stop the seeds of addiction from turning new patients into our nation's next drug addicts.There are almost 900,000 doctors in the U.S. who are legally allowed to prescribe opioids, said Brian Meshkin, CEO of Proove Biosciences. Imagine the impact they could have on the crisis if they all implemented genetic screening in their practice, testing every new pain patient for their risk of addiction before prescribing them their first Vicodin.
Meshkin hopes recent news reports about the opioid crisis, including the tragic death of pop icon Prince, convince more physicians to adopt precision medication and take a more active role to protect their patients. "we need to do more than break the grip of opioid addiction; we must put information into the hands of doctors so they can make informed decisions before putting potentially additive pills into the hands of patients, said Meshkin.
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